Disclaimer: Not mine, blah blah blah.
Neither Buffy nor Giles were quite sure which was stranger about the little demon that they had found and capture while on patrol: the fact that that there was not the tiniest scrap of information about it anywhere in any of Giles’ volumes, or that it was quite friendly, gentle, and, well, adorable.
“I have never seen a demon this cute!” Buffy cooed, tickling the thing’s belly. The demon, which resembled a brown tabby cat with a pair of stubby horns poking out of the fur behind its ears, let out a happy purr in response and promptly vanished into thin air. “Hey!” Buffy cried, suddenly alarmed, but went back to giggling when it began to give her raspy kisses with its invisible tongue.
Giles shook his head at the display but said nothing, instead turning his attention back to glowering at the useless stack of books before him on his desk. Almost two full days of research had yielded not a single result, and he was growing quite irritable with the whole affair. At least the demon that he was having such a hard time identifying wasn’t a threat – not in any sense of the word, as far as he could tell. In fact, it seemed more placid and good-natured than most of the domesticated pets he had ever known. Though, of course, it could be twice as annoying, he reflected as the sudden weight of four invisible paws and a good bundle of cat-demon landed squarely on his lap.
“Oof,” he huffed reproachfully, hauling it off of him and up onto the desk. “Buffy,” he scolded his Slayer, “I thought that you were keeping an eye on this dreadful creature.”
“Well, it’s a little hard to keep an eye on her when I can’t see her,” Buffy teased, rising from the couch to scoop the thing back up in order to cuddle it some more.
“Yes, but I –” Giles paused, frowning. “Wait a moment! How do you know that it’s a ‘she’?”
Buffy stared at him. “Uh, Giles, there are ways to know.” When he still didn’t quite seem to understand, she pointedly raised both of her eyebrows.
“Oh!” Giles flushed a bit. “Erm, yes, right.”
Buffy, smirking to herself, leaned back against the couch contentedly and let out a sigh. “I wish that all demons were like this,” she commented, lazily scratching the creature behind the ears (and carefully avoiding the horns). “It’d make my job so much easier.”
“I imagine that Angel would be less than thrilled if he every so often turned into a fluffy black cat,” Giles observed drily, shuffling a few papers aside.
Buffy grinned at his quip, but it was a wary one that didn’t quite reach her eyes, which were surreptitiously searching him for the bitterness that she knew he kept well hidden. Though it had been some months since his return, Angel was still a subject that the two of them handled as regularly and easily as toxic waste, and both of them were aware of it. But his humor, though sarcastic, seemed genuine, and she allowed herself a real smile as she went back to stroking her little companion.
“Yeah,” she agreed softly, and l he looked up from his book to give her a gentle smile of his own.
The moment then passed, and they spent a few more minutes in comfortable and content silence as Giles went back to work and Buffy went back to play – only to have Giles shatter the peace by violently slamming a book shut. “This is useless,” he growled, and slumped wearily in his chair.
“Of course – when we do find a demon that’s actually nice, it turns out to be one that nobody’s ever seen before,” Buffy sighed. “There goes the chance that kitties like these are the only thing’s I’ll have to fight again.” She buried her face in the cat-demon’s fur to console herself.
Giles, however, looked as if he had been struck dumb. “Of course,” he breathed. “Never seen before… Buffy! We may very well have found an entirely new species of demon!”
Buffy glanced up, surprised by the excitement in his voice. “Is that a good thing?” she asked warily, shifting the demon so that she was holding it at arm’s length. “I mean, how do we know that this thing’s not going to explode if nobody’s ever, y’know, not been exploded by one before?”
“This is wonderful!” Giles exclaimed excitedly, swooping over to snatch the cat-demon from her grasp and practically waltz around the room with her. The creature, though somewhat startled at first, seemed to be enjoying herself after a few spins. “There are so many honors involved with the discovery of a new species,” Giles carried on delightedly. “Why, the Committee of Demon Registrars will come by – goodness, I’ve always wanted to meet them – and there will be books written about the demon and its discoverer! And of course, there’s always the naming of the species –” Giles broke off suddenly, looking quite abashed. “I’m sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself,” he apologized to an amused Buffy. “You did find her, after all.”
“Not true,” Buffy protested, smiling at him almost fondly. “She jumped onto your head from the bushes. I just pried her off.” When her Watcher still seemed uncertain, she urged him on. “Take her – she’s yours.” Giles beamed at her, more thrilled than she had seen him in a long time (longer than she would like to think about) – and it made her feel warm inside to see the excited schoolboy look on his face once again. Even if naming a demon had had any significance for her, she knew that she would give it up instantly just for the look on his face as he clasped the cat-thing to his chest.
“Just one question,” she added as an afterthought. “So, people have named all the demons I’ve fought?”
“Most of them, yes,” Giles agreed, too giddy to be puzzled by where this was leading.
Three weeks later, Buffy returned to Giles’ apartment to find the place very tidy but its owner quite a mess.
In fact, she was more than a bit startled when his door was yanked open moments after her knock to reveal a very harried and unkempt Giles returning her stare with a rather wild one of his own. “Wow, Giles, are you okay?” she asked him with concern as he stepped aside to allow her in. “I’ve heard that new pets can be stressful, but I never thought that it’d be this bad.” She assessed his ruffled hair, haphazardly-buttoned suit, and untied shoelaces with a disapproving air, but Giles simply waved her off.
“No, no, Lady’s been fine,” he assured her, looking affectionately at the cat-demon curled up on the sofa.
“Willow named her. After Lady Grey – she said that it was only common sense for an Englishman to name his tea-colored cat after the stuff. I daresay that, had Lady been a he, she would have christened him ‘Earl.’”
“Gotcha,” Buffy said, suppressing a smile at how much his attitude towards the little thing seemed to have changed. Cats (even demonic ones) certainly had a way of capturing the heart.
“Of course, she has gotten into a bit of trouble,” Giles continued, reaching over to scratch her behind the ears. “She can be quite mischievous, in fact. Why, just the other day, she knocked into my mug and spilled it all over one of my books – while invisible, naturally, so that there was no way to stop her.” Lady stirred beneath his hand and then yawned, afterwards opening unnaturally dark eyes that were somehow also quite bright. “But really, she’s very kind and lovely at heart. She actually reminds me a bit of…” he trailed off, staring confusedly – and almost regretfully – at the happy little creature pawing his arm.
“Giles, that’s nice,” Buffy broke in after a moment, “but if it’s not the cat, then what’s got you so… crazy?”
“What?” Giles asked, shaking his head slightly to clear it. “Erm, the Registrars will be here shortly, and I still haven’t got a name chosen. But I think…” he said slowly, only to be interrupted by another knock – this one sharper than Buffy’s had been – on his door. Giles jumped, and then turned to face Buffy with a vaguely pained expression on his face. “Erm, Buffy, the Registrars are actually a branch of the Council, and if you’re here, they may –”
When Buffy returned later in the day, it was to find a somewhat saddened Giles packing up the few kitty toys and cans of cat food he had bought into a small cardboard box. “Aww, they didn’t take her, did they?” she asked with great disappointment. When he simply nodded, she flopped dejectedly onto his couch. “I’m sorry, Giles. I know that you liked her.”
“Yes, well, they needed to take her back to be studied more thoroughly. I have their word that she will not be harmed,” he informed her heavily. Buffy, remembering just how truthful the Council had been in the past, said nothing but glared fixedly at a point on the wall.
“Well, congrats on your discovery,” she said at length, and Giles smiled her in an exhausted sort of way. “What did you end up naming it?”
“Oh,” Giles said in an offhand manner, “Demonicus Calendarus.”
And Buffy, for the first (and last) time, saw beauty his Latin gibberish